US government accuses China of cyberespionage against companies

19 May 2014

The US Department of Justice has, for the first time, charged a number of Chinese military personnel for engaging in economic cyberespionage against US companies.

According to The Washington Post, officials within the justice department said that the Chinese military had targeted various different sectors with an emphasis on energy including nuclear and solar energy as well as steel.

In a number of cases, the decision to engage in espionage was largely to do with giving similar Chinese companies a competitive advantage over their American counterparts and elsewhere.

In a statement to the press, Attorney General Eric H Holder Jr said that the current US administration would not go easy on any attempts by a foreign power to use cyber-espionage in the country saying they “will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market.”

Judging by recent estimates which indicate that cyber-espionage against commercial operations in the US costs the country between US$24bn and US$120bn each year.

There has been back and forth actions between the two nations with regard to cyber-espionage, especially given the revelations that the US government was involved in its own digital spying after it was reported that they had spied on Chinese smartphone manufacturers Huawei in the hope of finding a link between them and spying for the Chinese government.

Security image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic